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A Look at Men’s Tennis Apparel

woman tennis The Avant-garde of Tennis Apparel: Rafael Nadal

The Avant-garde of Tennis Apparel: Rafael Nadal

Most people need no introduction to Rafael Nadal, the 23-year old Spanish sensation that conquered the tennis world last year after finally dethroning prodigy Roger Federer from the number one spot. Aside from being at the top of the men’s tennis, there’s another aspect that makes Nadal stand out: his choice of tennis apparel.

Early on, and up until very recently, “Rafa”, as he is fondly called by fans and supporters, sported the perfect apparel that can only be described as ‘rebellious’ to the traditional and mostly conservative tennis fashion sense. The tight-fitting sleeveless tops challenged the appeal of the sporty polo. The capris he wore seemed utterly uncomfortable, but complemented the tops very well. The bandana covering his entire forehead seemed distracting, but appropriate with his renegade theme.

It’s not like Nadal was the first person to shock the world when it came to his tennis garb. Women’s tennis always pushed the envelope when it comes to apparel, such as “Gorgeous” Gussy Moran’s lacey underwear circa 1950 or Maria Sharapova’s Swarovski crystal-studded dress from Nike. But men’s tennis has always been so customary when it came to clothing, with only a few exceptions like Andre Agassi’s hot pink getup in the 1990 French Open.

Still, it was Rafael Nadal who came along with his trimmed muscles, powerful play, and flashy attire and has put a stamp on the sport—and it’s not just the things he did that has to do with being the world’s top male tennis player. Last year, Rafa showed up with a fusion of his style and the pinnacle of classic tennis fashion—at Wimbledon. He was still clad in his distinctive attire, but the garish colors gave way to the traditional white of the oldest tennis tournament in the world.

It’s more than just the choice of clothing. It has more to do with how Rafa exudes confidence wearing practically anything. It’s like he is never conscious at whatever is showing and what isn’t. More than anything, it seems that he is willing to wear anything without being afraid of what others will think—especially those who value tradition.

As Nadal made his way to the top, Nike, the sporting apparel brand he endorses, sought to overhaul his image to make his clothing line classier, moving him closer to the traditional tennis player image while still retaining some of the Spaniard’s classic style.  Just this May, at the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Masters, Nadal was clad in Nike’s take on a retro 1980s polo with accents of teal and bright yellow, with matching teal headband and the same colors for his tennis shoes.

Everything is still flashy, with all the bright colors and the eye-catching accents. Teal, neon, orange—those are just some of the colors that you can expect from Rafa’s attire. Of course, now that his tops have sleeves, girls who are enamored with him have to do without the sight of his bare shoulders and arms. Then again, what’s that compared to making Nadal more accepted universally?

Tennis is indeed a very dynamic sport, and there are all sorts of battles going on, not just the one played within the bounds of the tennis court. You’ve got mind games, physical clashes, and then you’ve got the battle of tennis apparel.

Amid all the shorts and the polo shirts of the gentlemen, Rafael Nadal has managed to carve a niche all his own with his personal brand of fashion.

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